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Archive for the ‘international’ Category

US wiretap of Greece may have led to death of Vodafone technician who discovered it

Posted by Charles II on October 3, 2015

James Bamford, The Intercept (excerpts, not necessarily in order):

According to previously undisclosed documents from the Snowden archive, NSA has a long history of tapping into Olympic Games, both overseas and within the U.S.

The key to the operation was hijacking a particular piece of software, the “lawful intercept” program. Installed in most modern telecom systems, it gave a telecom company the technical capability to respond to a legal warrant from the local government to monitor a suspect’s communications. Vodafone’s central switching equipment was made by Ericsson, the large Swedish company, and on January 31, 2002, Ericsson delivered to Vodafone an upgrade containing the lawful intercept program, a piece of software known as the Remote Control Equipment Subsystem (RES).

On March 4, after weeks of investigation, Ericsson notified Vodafone that it had discovered a sophisticated piece of malware, containing a hefty 6,500 lines of code — evidence of a large bugging operation. The company also turned up the target phone numbers of the prime minister and his wife, the mayor of Athens, members of the Ministerial Cabinet, and scores of high officials, as well as the numbers for the shadow phones and the metadata describing when the calls were made.

In his testimony, Ericsson’s managing director for Greece, Bill Zikou, laid out the “how,” describing the method by which the bugging was accomplished. “What happened in this incident,” he said, “is that a complex, sophisticated, non-Ericsson intruder piece of software was planted into the Vodafone Greece network,” which by activating the RES function “thus made illegal interceptions possible.”

Sitting in his apartment overlooking Athens’ Plaka, John Brady Kiesling could make little sense of it all. “I don’t see a shred of evidence that this wiretapping did the U.S. government any good,” he said. “I think it’s just important to underscore that intelligence gathering is never free. It always comes at a human and political cost to someone. In this case it was paid by an innocent Vodafone technician [Costas Tsalikidis, who apparently uncovered the mass wiretap].”

Posted in crimes, international, NSA eavesdropping | Leave a Comment »

No Homage from Catalonia: province votes to separate from Spain

Posted by Charles II on September 27, 2015

Ashifa Kassam, The Guardian:

Separatists took control of Catalonia’s regional government in an election result that could plunge Spain into one of its deepest political crises of recent years, by forcing Madrid to confront an openly secessionist government at the helm of one of its wealthiest regions.

A record-breaking number of Catalans cast their vote in Sunday’s election, billed as a de facto referendum on independence. With more than 98% of the votes counted, the nationalist coalition Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) were projected to win 62 seats, while far-left pro-independence Popular Unity Candidacy, known in Spain as CUP, were set to gain 10 seats, meaning an alliance of the two parties could give secessionists an absolute majority in the region’s 135-seat parliament.

The PP [conservative ruling party] emerged as one of the election’s biggest losers, said Emilio Sáenz-Francés, a professor of history and international relations at Madrid’s Comillas Pontifical University.

Many Catalans opposed to independence instead turned to centre-right Ciutadans, the regional arm of Ciudadanos

This does not immediately lead to secession. But it’s a strong anti-austerity vote and may presage a tidal wave in the national elections.

Posted in international | Leave a Comment »

War-messed regards from Mariupol

Posted by Charles II on August 19, 2015

Stephen Cohen on The John Batchelor Show, via The Nation:



Nation contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussions of the Ukrainian crisis and new US-Russian Cold War. Heading this installment are mounting signs that Kiev may be planning a renewed military assault on the rebel strongholds of Donetsk, Lugansk, and other Donbass areas. If so, Cohen points out, this raises two large questions. Since Kiev alone cannot hope for a military victory and would likely suffer a crushing defeat, is it counting on US/NATO support. And if such support is forthcoming, will Russian President Putin have any choice except to send in his own forces, resulting in war between the United States and Russia?

Posted in international, Russia, Ukraine | Comments Off on War-messed regards from Mariupol

The Corporate Party of America and the Trade Deal

Posted by Charles II on June 23, 2015

Meteor Blades:

Democrats who voted for cloture[on the TransPacific Partnership “trade” deal]:

Michael Bennet of Colorado, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Thomas Carper of Delaware, Chris Coons of Delaware, Dianne Feinstein of California, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Patty Murray of Washington, Bill Nelson of Florida, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Mark Warner of Virginia and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

Even Ron Wyden, who has been so good on privacy.

It’s definitely time to nominate Bernie Sanders as the first step in telling the Corporate Democrats to fark off.

Added: A great comment from Eschaton about Hillary and her triangulation on trade.

willf -> JeffCO • 16 minutes ago

I think democrats should follow her example, and wait on the “supporting Hillary” question until after the election.

Posted in Congress, Democrats, international | 2 Comments »

ISIS’s treatment of women: Outsourced to Echidne

Posted by Charles II on April 20, 2015

Read ’em and weep:


Part 1: The Rules for Sunni Muslim women

Part 2: Sexual Slavery and Rape of “Non-Believers”

Part 3: The Western Female IS Militants

Part 4: To be written when Echidne recovers from writing the preceding.

Posted in abuse of power, Conflict in the Middle East, evil, international | Comments Off on ISIS’s treatment of women: Outsourced to Echidne

For those cheering N. Korea’s internet going down…

Posted by Charles II on December 23, 2014

They probably didn’t do the Sony hack. Also, the hackers who brought N. Korea down were probably black hats not affiliated with the U.S. government. See my post on Daily Kos.

I know, I know. This isn’t news. Internet sites like Wired and Ars Technica have been skeptical all along. So have I, but the absence of evidence at this point is really starting to look like evidence of absence of any sense at all in the US government.

Posted in abuse of power, computers and software, international | 2 Comments »

A national treasure

Posted by Charles II on November 24, 2014

Andrew Bacevich:

Consider the following claims, each of which in Washington circles has attained quasi-canonical status.

* The presence of U.S. forces in the Islamic world contributes to regional stability and enhances American influence.

* The Persian Gulf constitutes a vital U.S. national security interest.

* Egypt and Saudi Arabia are valued and valuable American allies.

* The interests of the United States and Israel align.

* Terrorism poses an existential threat that the United States must defeat.

For decades now, the first four of these assertions have formed the foundation of U.S. policy in the Middle East. The events of 9/11 added the fifth, without in any way prompting a reconsideration of the first four. On each of these matters, no senior U.S. official (or anyone aspiring to a position of influence) will dare say otherwise, at least not on the record.

Yet subjected to even casual scrutiny, none of the five will stand up.

Bacevich is a national treasure. An Army colonel who lost a son, he has spoken out against our dangerous and ineffective policy with great courage.

Posted in history, Homeland Security, international, Iraq war, military | Comments Off on A national treasure

Kissinger says US dealings in Ukraine were inept

Posted by Charles II on November 13, 2014

Crossposted from DK.

Der Spiegel:

SPIEGEL: So let’s talk about a concrete example: How should the West react to the Russian annexation of Crimea? Do you fear this might mean that borders in the future are no longer incontrovertible?

Kissinger: Crimea is a symptom, not a cause. Furthermore, Crimea is a special case. Ukraine was part of Russia for a long time.

SPIEGEL: What you’re saying is that the West has at least a kind of responsibility for the escalation?

Kissinger: Yes, I am saying that. Europe and America did not understand the impact of these events, starting with the negotiations about Ukraine’s economic relations with the European Union and culminating in the demonstrations in Kiev.

Ukraine has always had a special significance for Russia. It was a mistake not to realize that.

…the West could not accept the annexation; some countermeasures were necessary. But nobody in the West has offered a concrete program to restore Crimea. Nobody is willing to fight over eastern Ukraine. That’s a fact of life.

We have to remember that Russia is an important part of the international system, and therefore useful in solving all sorts of other crises, for example in the agreement on nuclear proliferation with Iran or over Syria. This has to have preference over a tactical escalation in a specific case…. I don’t think it’s a law of nature that every state must have the right to be an ally in the frame work of NATO.

SPIEGEL: America is very polarized. The level of aggression in the political debate is extremely high. Is the superpower still even able to act at all?

Kissinger: I am worried about this domestic split. When I worked in Washington, political combat was tough. But there was much more cooperation and contact between opponents of the two big parties.

Posted in history, international, Russia | Comments Off on Kissinger says US dealings in Ukraine were inept

Iran-Contra figure firebombed after exposing Canadian intel corruption

Posted by Charles II on December 6, 2012

The home of Ari Ben-Menashe, a former Israeli intelligence officer, was firebombed with an accelerant that may not be widely available. The Canadian press (from a quick reading of the Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette, and National Post) is intensely hostile to him, painting his role in various controversies as being on the dark side (like, for example, saying that he led a sting against an opponent of Robert Mugabe in 2002 without providing any context; in 2002, Mugabe was Sir Mugabe, knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1994. The honor was revoked in 2008). So, it was of interest that Robert Parry, Consortium wrote:

In more recent years, as an international consultant often working in global hotspots, Ben-Menashe has been involved in other controversies, including a role blowing the whistle on a questionable 2010 business deal by Arthur Porter, who was then in charge of overseeing Canadian intelligence services and who ran the McGill University Health Centre.

Porter resigned both posts, and the scandal has tarnished the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who let Porter serve in a highly sensitive position as chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee from Sept. 3, 2008, until his resignation on Nov. 10, 2011. That position gave Porter access to not only sensitive secrets of Canadian intelligence but of American intelligence as well.

Ben-Menashe’s knowledge of the Porter’s ethically questionable conduct began in June 2010 when Porter paid Ben-Menashe’s consulting firm $200,000 to help broker a $120 million development grant for Porter’s homeland of Sierra Leone. However, Ben-Menashe learned that the grant was to be funneled through an outfit known as the Africa Infrastructure Group, which Porter owned, and the deal was using a questionable Swiss bank.

After discovering these irregularities, Ben-Menashe said he returned the $200,000 fee and terminated the grant proposal. According to Ben-Menashe, Porter blamed him for sinking the scheme, which was later exposed by Canada’s National Post precipitating Porter’s fall from grace. Last month, McGill University also sued Porter for $317,154.

So, the nasty dispute with Porter is one of the avenues of inquiry being followed by Montreal police. But Ben-Menashe also has been the target of the Israeli government for divulging state secrets in the early 1990s and he remains a bête noire in some Israeli circles to this day.

The man has a lot of enemies. But not all of them have access to military-grade accelerants.

Posted in international, israel | 1 Comment »

An inspiration to Mssrs. Boehner, McConnell, Norquist, and Ailes

Posted by Charles II on November 25, 2012

John Lichfield, The Independent:

Seldom in any democratic country can such fraternal hatred, such bloody-minded determination to eviscerate nominal colleagues, have been exposed within one political party.

Forget John Major’s war with the Tory Eurosceptic “bastards” in the 1990s. Forget Republican primary attack ‘ads’ in the United States. For eight days, leading members of the French centre-right have been ripping one another apart live on radio and TV or exchanging insults and accusations by Twitter.

François Fillon, the gently-spoken man who was prime minister until six months ago, has accused his leadership rival Jean-Francois Copé of turning France’s largest political party into a “mafia”. Mr Copé has accused Mr Fillon and his supporters of “ massive, pre-meditated fraud” in an internal election for party president which ended in a near dead-heat last weekend.

Posted in international, political purges | Comments Off on An inspiration to Mssrs. Boehner, McConnell, Norquist, and Ailes

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